State Board of Education approves Spokane's application to open charter schools

September 11, 2013 in Blog

Today, in Yakima, the State Board of Education unanimously voted to give Spokane Public Schools the authority to open charter schools. With this vote, Spokane Public Schools, Washington state's second-largest district, of 28,000 students, will become the first district in the state to offer parents a charter school choice.  

Results Washington will fail to improve the public schools

September 11, 2013 in Blog

Yesterday Governor Inslee launched a new initiative, Results Washington, the latest announcement by a governor to improve state government and the public schools.  Governors Gary Locke and Christine Gregoire tried similar initiatives. 

In this one, Governor Inslee says the following about goals for the public schools

Anti-reform activists push back on giving parents education choice

September 9, 2013 in Blog

Today, Rick Hess at National Review Online writes a great article drawing the battle lines in education reform.  On one side are voices like Diane Ravitch, whose new book attacks school reformers for supporting school choice, accountability, merit pay and greater respect for parents' role in the education of their children.  On the other side are caring school reformers, of both parties, alike, who have signed on to well-

Seattle union backs away from strike action; agrees to allow children to attend school on time

September 4, 2013 in Blog

Last night, executives at Seattle's powerful teachers union decided to back away from their threatened strike action and allow Seattle's 50,000 public school children to attend classes on time.  Over the Labor Day weekend parents across the city had been making alternative child care arrangements in case the union followed through on plans to close schools to students. 

The union and District officials settled on a two-year contract agreement.  I have just finished reading the new agreement.  Here are its key terms:

Seattle teachers strike: What’s a fair contract?

September 2, 2013 in Blog

Last week, as Seattle parents prepared for the fall-out of a threatened teachers strike, Rich Wood spokesman for the state teacher union, told West Seattle Herald reporter Patrick Robinson,

“The Seattle School Board needs to make teachers and other school employees a fair contract offer...” 

Research shows Seattle School District pays some of the highest teacher salaries in the state – average salary + benefits tops $90K

August 29, 2013 in Blog

This morning, Linda Shaw of The Seattle Times provides an informative report on the threatened Seattle schools strike by union executives over contract negotiations with the school district.  One of the issues in contention is the cost of teacher compensation, described as follows: 

“Under the school district’s offer, she said [School Board member Shelley Carr], Seattle teachers would remain some of the most highly paid in the state.” 

Seattle parents brace for teachers' strike

August 28, 2013 in Blog

Today in The Seattle Times, the Seattle school district notified families to prepare for a possible strike by teachers on the first day of school, September 4, next week.  

Charter schools have younger teachers

August 27, 2013 in Blog

Today the New York Times reports that charter school teachers are younger, on average, than traditional school teachers. While charter school teachers have an average of two to five years experience, teachers in traditional schools have close to an average of 14 years experience.  

Charter schools see the youth of their teachers as a desirable quality.  

Federal government repeats demand that Washington rewrite its teacher/principal evaluation bill

August 16, 2013 in Blog

Yesterday, the news broke that the U.S. Department of Education meant what it said last summer, when it told Washington state to rewrite its teacher/principal evaluation bill, SB 5896. Because lawmakers did not do so, the federal government has now declared Washington’s one-year waiver from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements at “high risk” of not being renewed. 

I said it last summer, and I’ll say it again.  The federal government has a lot of nerve. 

Milton Friedman's birthday and charter schools in Washington state

July 31, 2013 in Blog

Today is the 101st anniversary of Milton Friedman’s birth. People across the country are celebrating the great economist and his contributions to education reform in America. 

Federal Way School Leaders Should Take Responsibility

July 29, 2013 in Blog

On July 26, the Federal Way Mirror published “Federal Way School Leaders Should Take Responsibility” by Austin Cooper, a WPC Research Assistant.  

Austin has been helping WPC’s Center for Education distribute information to local communities about their schools’ performance on the State Board of Education’s annual School Achievement Index.

State Board of Education weakens School Achievement Index

July 24, 2013 in Blog

On July 10 and 11, the 15 member State Board of Education, led by Chairman Jeff Vincent, voted to weaken Washington’s School Achievement Index, as reported here and here.  Members have decided to shift the weight of the assessment of school performance from whether students are actually learning at grade level, to m

In The Seattle Times: Education reforms for state students blocked by WEA

July 16, 2013 in Blog

Today The Seattle Times published my editorial about the blocked education reforms in the recent legislative session.  Here it is:

Education reforms for state students blocked by WEA

Although education funding will reach an all-time high in Washington state, important reforms were left on the table, writes guest columnist Liv Finne.

Special to The Seattle Times--July 16, 2013

Highline School Board Director attacks charter school law

July 15, 2013 in Blog

On Friday, July 12, Highline School Board Director Susan Goding wrote a short article against allowing charter schools, “Authorizing charter schools makes no business sense for school districts.” You can read the article here.   This article is a clear attempt to discourage implementation of the new charter school law.

Spokane Public Schools embraces charter schools to become Washington’s most progressive, forward-looking district

July 12, 2013 in Blog

On July 1st, Spokane Public Schools was the only district in Washington state to submit an application to become a charter school authorizer for the 2014-15 school year. Responsible for the education of 28,738 students, Spokane Public Schools is the second-largest district in Washington.  With this decision, Spokane has become the state’s most progressive, forward-looking district in the state.